How do I force bulbs in water/rocks?

cups(z8)November 28, 2005

I saw an Amaryllis kit at the store and tried to create one for myself. The kit had a glass vase (about 5" across by 8" deep,) a small bag of small, polished river rocks, about 2 teaspoons of activated charcoal and an Amaryllis bulb.

I assembled a kit at home and nestled the bulb barely into the stones (so that 85% of the bulb was above the stones) and added enough warm water that just the roots & bottom of the bulb were wet. I set it in a room with SW exposure. About 5 days later (today,) I see mold on the outside of the bulb and when I lifted up the bulb there was such a stench of sulphur my eyes burned.

I know this is supposed to be possible, so how do you force bulbs in water?

If it's possible, I'd like to learn how to force a whole garden of bulbs indoors. Are there some bulbs that do better in soil vs water?


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jndvasquez(z9 RGValley, TX)

I'm kind of new to forcing still. So far my forcing has produced no mold so something must be right. I'm forcing paperwhites & according to the instructions in the forcing vase, I filled it up with water to the point to where the water bearly comes into slight contact with the roots, but the bulb is never submerged with water.


    Bookmark   November 28, 2005 at 8:30PM
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chloehoover(z6b VA)

I've had great success w/ paperwhites in water/rocks - have even gotten into giving them as a traditional holiday gift (inexpensive and fun to do) - I have not used the activated charcoal - I wonder if that was your problem? I do know that you're only supposed to have the water level stay at the very bottom of the bulb (& if in a sunny window it often needs to be re-plenished daily). I wonder if there's a special requirement for amaryllis? (Hope someone comments because I was thinking of giving those as presents this year - similar to your idea).

    Bookmark   November 29, 2005 at 8:58AM
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I force both paperwhites, amaryllis and hyacinths in water - be sure to keep the water surface just at the base of the bulb or slightly below. The roots should be in water but not the bulb itself. The mold and unpleasant smell may be because part of the bulb is submerged and is rotting.

Amaryllis are a bit tricker, but only because they are such large bulbs. They need a substantial container and good amount of stones/glass to anchor the roots as the growth on the amaryllis will make it quite top-heavy. I prefer to use vases designed for this purpose with more of an hourglass shape, like hyacinth forcing vases only much larger.

    Bookmark   November 29, 2005 at 9:16AM
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chloehoover(z6b VA)

Hey, thanks, gardengal -- I was a bit worried that the amaryllis may need more than I had read up on -- I concur about the weight/rock thing - I found even w/ paperwhites that if using glass/rocks instead of soil, they really need to be in a tall vase or they tend to fall over w/ just the rocks/water. (and vase needs to be wide enough to permit all the green growth, depending on how many bulbs you're planting together). I was planning to use amaryllis in hurricane lamp shaped vases -- they're perfect. And definitely keeping the water at the very base or right below the bulbs themselves.

    Bookmark   November 30, 2005 at 9:01AM
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I just did a post on this!

I agree with the other posters...keep that bulb bottom out of water!

Here is a link that might be useful: Forcing paperwhites in water

    Bookmark   December 21, 2010 at 8:45AM
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